Books you want
Books you didn’t know you wanted
Presents for your niece
(and lots of books not even shown in the picture)
Check out the whole sale.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
My experience of narrative — particularly in New York City, where every approaching train cuts off every approaching thought, where the constant abrasion of the unknown with the insane desensitizes, so that I’m often left with white noise, and jagged notes from the digital world seep further into reality — is piecemeal. I had a friend who assured me that it was impossible to read certain books in the 21st-century city. Henry James, for instance. You need a quiet nook, she said. Otherwise, ‘before you’ve even finished one sentence’ — but she was cut off. I became fascinated with this idea of a patchwork approach. Certainly, it’s nothing new, but who did it well?
"Scrolling through news bits and status updates between passages of Speedboat, I’m floored by how the novel reads as a somewhat verbose Twitter feed. That is, verbose for Twitter. Succinct for anything else.”
In the Wake of Speedboat: On Renata Adler’s 1976 Novel by Eric Dean Wilson
You see things differently when you’re in love. Two outpatients from a methadone clinic slap each other on the corner. A goiter rides the crosstown bus. We attend a dinner party; none of the dogs have tails. Men in the map room of the New York Public Library surveil passing breasts. Nights slip by. I sit on the curb outside a magazine launch and watch a famous author pour cold water down a woman’s arm. ‘Don’t be jealous,’ my companion says impatiently, cupping his own elbows. ‘He’s only applying a temporary tattoo.’
I was in love and then I wasn’t, and sometime during the drifting gray interim I was told by a bookseller friend to read Renata Adler’s 1976 debut, Speedboat, a novel that had long been out of print but was absolutely, he insisted, worth the trouble of the search.
The wallflower sat reading in the Paris restaurant. There used to be so many categories of wallflower: the anxious, smiling, tense ones who leaned forward, trying; the important, busy, apparently elsewhere preoccupied ones, who were nonetheless waiting, waiting in the carpeted offices of their inattention, to be found. There were wallflowers who clustered noisily together, and others who worked a territory, resolute and alone. And then, there were wallflowers who had recognized for years that the thing was hopeless, who had found in that information a kind of calm. They no longer tried, with a bright and desperate effort, to sustain a conversation with somebody’s brother, somebody’s usher, somebody’s roommate, somebody’s roommate’s usher’s brother, or, worst of all, with that male wallflower who ought — by God, who ought — to be an ally, who could, in dignity and the common interest, join forces to make it through an evening, but who, after all, had higher aspirations, and neither the sense nor the courtesy to conceal it, who, in short, scorned the partner fate and the placement had dealt him, worst of all. The category of wallflower who had given up on all this was very quiet, not indifferent, only quiet. And she always brought a book.